General news >> Monday August 28, 2006
Half of Bangkok doesn't believe it

Fact or fiction, 'bomb plot' worsens the split


Half the people in Bangkok do not believe the alleged bomb plot against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was genuine, according to an opinion poll.

The finding came as academics predicted a more confrontational society, regardless of the election outcome.

A Bangkok University poll found 49.8% of people surveyed in the capital and the surrounding areas believed the alleged plot on Mr Thaksin's life was a hoax.

And 60.6% of them were convinced the government itself orchestrated the incident, while 20% believed anti-government elements were behind it.

Only 20.5% actually believed it was a serious assassination attempt.

Nearly half (47.5%) said Thai Rak Thai will not lose popularity, but 25.5% thought the incident will reflect badly on the party.

Abac Poll also released its latest survey, finding that Bangkokians, already made anxious by political uncertainty, are even more stressed in the wake of the bomb scare, which also has worsened divisions.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva cautioned the government against jumping to conclusions by referring to the incident as a "foiled bomb attack".

"Don't blow the issue out of proportion or try to politicise it. We should let the officials in charge of the investigation do their job honestly," he said.

Nikorn Chamnong, deputy Chart Thai leader, said whether the plot is fact or fiction, society is now more divided.

About 300 Thai Rak Thai members paid homage to the Kruba Srivichai statue at the foot of Doi Suthep, in Chiang Mai, yesterday and prayed for Mr Thaksin's safety. At the same time, the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) rallied in Nakhon Ratchasima, stepping up their demand for Mr Thaksin's exit from politics and warning that a prolonged conflict could degenerate into a repeat of the Oct 6, 1976 uprising.

Sqn-Ldr Prasong Soonsiri, a former secretary-general of the National Security Council, said the government "scripted" its own inferior-quality, political drama.

"You've finished the first two acts by driving the bomb into the hands of the police and then proceeding to have people picket outside Pa Prem's [Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda] house asking him to spare [Mr Thaksin's] life. It's made to look as though Pa Prem is the mastermind of any bomb plot," he said.

"I believe the third and final act will be ready for you, only this time it will be written by someone else," he said.

Meanwhile, academics and experts agreed the general election was not the major factor which could end the confrontation. At a Thai Journalists Association seminar yesterday, participants said Mr Thaksin's return would probably not lead to sweeping violence, as seen in the Oct 6 bloodshed, but he could face pockets of violent protests by opposing groups.

Gothom Arya, chairman of the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, said Mr Thaksin must change his approach to running the country. His leadership had the "dangerous side-effect" of spawning corruption and dividing society.